"God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will." (Hebrews 2:4, International Standard Version).
The Epistle to the Hebrews was written to a second-generation church that had never known Jesus of Nazareth personally but had come to faith through the words of those who had heard him preach and had witnessed his miracles. This church had faced persecution, and many were wavering in their faith and thinking about returning to Judaism as they remembered it to be a safer approach to God. The writer reminded them that in the old days God spoke to them through the prophets, but in these last days he spoke through his son. Jesus. Because Jesus is God’s own Son, he is superior to Moses, Elijah or any other prophet. By believing in Jesus they would be saved from their sins and could find peace with God and meaning for their lives.
As God’s own son, he is greater than angels. He led his life without sin and is man’s perfect sacrifice. They could trust in the Jesus as their High Priest and no longer be guilty and would have eternal life as promised by Jesus.
Those who knew Jesus personally witnessed his divine power over nature as he calmed angry seas. They were with him and saw his miracles of healing and casting out of demons. The epistle writer assures them that Jesus followers also had the truth of their own words confirmed by ‘signs, wonders, and various miracles as well as by receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Believers knew of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Through faith they could believe that this spirit would strengthen them to endure further hardship and give them victory over their trials.
Today’s popular culture offers many interesting and entertaining diversions. It gets harder to assign priorities when these are values that are God-given and worthwhile activities in themselves. They can include children’s sporting events, concerts and theater, book and stamp clubs, needle art groups, get-togethers with friends, and vacations away from home. All of these can seem more important than worshiping God in song and prayer and receiving forgiveness and healing for our souls in Holy Communion. If we’re too busy, how do we find the time to receive guidance and peace for our lives by studying His Word at home or in a group or writing a devotional for the Lenten Booklet or just time setting aside for the intention of being alone with God.
The unknown writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews reminds us that this time spent with God is what enables the Holy Spirit to enable us to become mature in our faith. Then only we can have security in Christ in our rapidly changing world. How can we pass up seeing God's truth confirmed in our own lives? Will we miss the signs, wonders and miracles of His love for us? Will we also pass up our heart’s deepest desire if we do?